Dogcharmer: Crate training

Sometimes the puppy trains its human very well.

Puppies like Cooper can learn to love a crate if special treats are found inside it. — Courtesy Tom Shelby


We picked up 8-week-old Cooper this past Saturday and could use some advice on crate training. How long can you keep Cooper in his crate crying and whimpering before you give in?

Very happy new parents.
Carol and Dave

Dear happy new parents, Carol and Dave,

Congrats on your new addition, Mr. Cooper. Based on the wording of your question, it sounds to me like you already “gave in.” Which is an important lesson — for Cooper. Keep whimpering until they “cave.” If he cried for a half hour until you couldn’t stand it anymore and let him out, he’s effectively been taught to persevere. Next time he’ll cry twice as long if he has to until you “cave.” He’s got nothing else to do, and it works! At this point I’m not suggesting that YOU hold out until Cooper caves, but rather that you change the dynamic.

Teach him to love the crate! Leaving the crate door open, give him his meals in the crate. The crate will become the only place on earth where he gets “the special stuff.” Several times during the day tell him to go to his house and lure him there with tiny pieces of chicken thrown into the crate. Close the door as the chicken flies into the crate from all sides and the roof. As he’s flying around the crate after the chicken pieces he’s tripping over that hollow marrow bone with a piece of meat or cheese wedged in the middle (which he can’t really get to) that you surreptitiously left in there when he was busy elsewhere. At this point you can probably open the crate door and he’ll not be interested in leaving as he’s too busy trying to get to the meat in the bone. Make sure his favorite bed is in the crate. Soon you’ll see he’s going into his “house” on his own just to check it out in case there’s something special inside, and soon thereafter he’ll be napping on his favorite bed in there. At that point a closed crate door should be no problem.

Good luck,
Dog Charmer Tom

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